Category Archives: Games

4e D&D is not D&D

I have nothing particularly against 4e D&D (I am currently enjoy playing in a campaign), but I have to say it isn’t D&D. That isn’t a bad thing, it just has changed so much that it is no longer the same game. Which is okay, as I like playing all kinds of games: D&D, Call of Cthulhu, Runequst, etc, etc.

Both v3.0 and v3.5 seemed like a logical evolution from AD&D. You could look at the system and see how things evolved from v2. A cleric was still a cleric, a fighter was still a fighter and so on. But 4E does not seem have that connection. It is a completely new game. This caused my initial negative reaction to it. It called itself D&D, but it wasn’t. Once I got that out of my head and began to play the game not as a D&D game, but rather just a new system that happens to be called 4e, I started to enjoy the game a lot more.

I don’t think I will never migrate to GMing a 4e game, I still prefer the type of game I get in 3.5  for that (dark, gritty, and often pyrrhic for the players). But I can enjoy the occasional 4E game. That being said I have a few observations about 4E.

  • It may be a lot easier to GM, but it is no easier for the player. My GM waxes poetic about how easy it is to set up a game. Great, but I don’t find that the construction simplicity carries over to play. This leads to the next point.
  • Combat is not fast in 4E. I’m sure some of it is familiarity, but I have found that combats actually seem to take longer in 4E than in 3.5.
  • Combat can be a bit repetitive in some cases as each character has a power that dos about the same thing (deals damage) for about the same damage with jazz being the only difference.
  • I hate marking. It slows down the game and I think that there could have been a better way of giving the fighter types more style/oomph in combat. It seems to lead to unnecessary bookkeeping in already long combats.
  • I hate having to pigeon hole my character into a Paragon path.

Three Dragon Ante

When I heard that Wizards of the Coast released a card game that could be played either for fun or by your character in a D&D game, I had my doubts. I figured it would be money-grubbing collectible card game with a 200 page manual…

Boy, was I wrong. The game is complete. No Boosters! Yea! It is also a really easy game that is lots of fun. You can be playing in 15 minutes, 5 if someone is demoing it for you. The rules for incorporating it into your D&D game are simple, yet they seem effective (I haven’t play tested them yet). And it really is a good game unto itself. We enjoy it quite a bit and the kids are mad for it!
Rating: ★★★½☆

Three Dragon Ante
Three Dragon Ante

Warmachine Game 1

Played Warmachine for the first time yesterday. Played against my son, who fielded a Protectorate army agianst my glorious Khadoran army. Out friend Clint was the rules-meister.

Since it was our first game, we just played a straight-on rumble. On the whole I noted the following things:

  • The game seems very balanced. Niether side seemed to have a decisive advantage.
  • The game seemed to move at a good pace. Especially as there were lots of rules browsing going on.
  • It was a lot of fun!

For those that care, here is our army lists:

Protectorate:

  • Severus
  • Deliverers
  • Revenger
  • Repenter
  • Crusader

Khador:

  • Sorcha
  • Destroyer
  • Juggernaut

Cheers!

Salep

Salep is a common drink in my Iron Kingdoms campaign. So for those that care, here is some background information regarding salep. As a side note, salep originated in the Protectorate.

In winter Turkish and Bulgarian peddlers sold salep, a hot, sweet, and peppery drink, that is both warming and nutritious.

With the coming of cold winter days, Turkey ‘s cake and pudding shops begin serving salep in place of ice cream. On the ferryboats which ply their way between the European and Asian shores of Istanbul, many passengers order steaming cups of this warming beverage. Salep is made from the powdered root of several species of wild orchid, and is both tasty and nourishing. It keeps the body warm in cold weather and increases resistance against the colds and coughs of winter.

The Turks have been drinking salep for many centuries. After they converted to Islam in the 8th century, a religion which prohibited the consumption of alcoholic drinks like wine and kimiz (made from mar’sh milk), non-alcoholic beverages like boza (made from maize), sira (grape juice) and salep took their place. While sira was the preferred drink of the summer months, boza and hot salep were the drinks of winter.

Also known as cayirotu or cemcicegi, salep is believed to be good for disorders of the intestines, colds, and coughs. It is said to improve the appetite and increase virility. Ancient folklore identifies it as an ingredient in love potions brewed by witches.

In Ottoman times salep was an used – along with ginger, coriander, senna, black cumin seeds, coconut, aniseed and numerous other herbs and spices – in invigorating pastes prepared for the sultans. In winter salep prepared as a drink with milk was sold by street vendors, who kept it warm in large copper jugs on a brazier. Their customers would warm themselves by the brazier and drink salep out of large cups without handles. A traditional drink of the Middle East, salep was introduced to Europe. It became particularly popular in England, where it was sold in salep shops, and served with bread and butter. Gradually, however, as coffee drinking became widespread, its use in Europe died out.

The largest tubers are gathered from orchids growing in forested mountainous regions, while those growing in meadows and high pastures are smaller. They grow best in soil with a high lime content, and those with the finest aroma and richest in starch are found at altitudes of 1000 to 1100 metres. In Anatolia, most orchid species belong to the genera Orchis and Ophrys. Wild orchids are most abundant in the provinces of Kahramanmaras, Adiyaman, Bitlis, and the Black Sea provinces, particularly Kastamonu. They flower in April and May, and then seed. Some of the flowers are scentless, while others produce a sweet scent that is strongest in the evening, and their colours vary from white to various tones of purple.

The orchid tubers are gathered while the plant is in flower. Each orchid has two tubers, one the main tuber from which the flower springs, and the other its younger offshoot. Only the young tuber is harvested, leaving the main tuber untouched.

The cream-coloured tubers are either egg-shaped or forked. They are washed and then tossed into boiling milk or water for a short while to remove the bitter flavour and make them easier to dry. They are then dried either in the open air or in ovens to speed up the process. After drying they may be stored whole or ground. The principal substances contained in salep vary according to the time of harvesting, but basically consist of mucilage, starch, sugar, and nitrates. The colour is generally creamy. Salep is the traditional thickening ingredient in Turkish ice cream, and the substance that lends the characteristic glutinous texture as well as subtle flavour.

Salep is expensive, so what is sold as salep may often be made with more cornstarch than the real thing. Therefore, if you do not want to be disappointed, it is better not to drink salep sold in the street. Places to be recommended include the pudding shops of Beyoglu and along the Bosphorus which are famous for their salep. Even better make it yourself at home, which will save you from going out in cold weather. Salep is simple to prepare. You can buy salep powder from the Misir Carsisi (Egyptian Market) in Istanbul, or from other spice shops, and it will keep in a glass jar indefinitely. Just boil up with milk and sugar for a delicious, healthy cup of salep.

Traditional salep drink is very nutritious, healthy, and delicious beverage. It is generally prepared by mixing starch, sugar, and salep powder into hot water or hot milk.

Salep

Ingredients

2 teaspoons (10 g) Salep (powdered root of orchis mascula)
2 tablespoons (25 g) Sugar
Milk 4 cups | 750 g
3/4 teaspoon (1.5 g) Cinnamon

Instruction

Place salep and sugar in a small saucepan; mixing well. Gradually add cold milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumping. Stirring constantly, cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes until thickened and smooth in consistency. Remove from heat. Pour into small mugs or large demitasses. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Serve hot.

6 servings

Nutritional Value (Approx. per serving):

Energy 79cal
Protein 4.1 g
Fat 2.4 g
Carbohydrate 10.2 g
Calcium 153 mg
Iron 0.1 mg
Phosphorus 119 mg
Zinc 1 mg
Sodium 63 mg
Vitamin A 256 iu
Thiamin (B1) 0.05 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 0.21 mg
Niacin 0.13 mg
Vitamin C 1 mg
Cholesterol 10 mg

Letters (Fiction)

Dear god, yet more gaming inspired fiction on the web…

Letters

By Michael Schumann

The salep steam rose from a cup and condensed into small beads on the cold windowpane. Klaus raised the chipped cup and blew softly over its hot contents before taking a tentative sip. Cuts, punctures, and bruises he can cope with, but scalds and burns made him irritable. Although the cup looked older than Morrow himself, the sweet drink therein was very good. Klaus smiled and continued to watch the street below through the window’s imperfections and the rivulets left by condensation as they raced down to the sill.

The street was bathed in the blue gaslight of Corvis. Faces, clothes, buildings, and the street itself were awash in a cool light that Klaus found calming. He smiled again as he noted a young boy ably unburdening a dandy of his pocket watch. That should keep his family well for a while thought Klaus as he ran his fingers subconsciously along his moustache.

A young girl came down the street skipping a rope with her hair flying wildly. Klaus noted the alley she eased into and waved over the serving boy while he scooped two silver coins from his wallet. He quickly finished his cup and with a smile passed the coins into the hand of…

…the young girl quickly and almost imperceptibly moved Klaus’ coins into her woolen coat. “Oi, that’s a fine weight now isn’t it” she quipped with a grin, her stained teeth glowing blue and mottled in the alley’s dim light. “If’in you ever be needin’ sumtin’ udder than this…” Her voice trailed off as she passed a torn piece of paper into Klaus’s gloved hand. Her hand lingered, resting in his palm, and she smiled jadedly. Klaus sighed inwardly, but replied with a soft smile and a simple acknowledgment of her skill in acquiring news, and the beauty of her smile. Klaus’s cape swirled as he spun towards the alley’s entrance and he stepped into…

… the dark, rich interior of the cab enveloped him as he settled in for the ride. He enjoyed the sounds of the coach as it worked its way through the shifting streets of Corvis. He once again studied the torn paper in his hand and the name and address it contained. If the cab would have been shared at that time, Klaus’ riding companion may well have noticed the smile that eased onto his face, and undoubtedly would have found it disturbing. He moved the windows’s velvet curtain to the side with the silvered head of his walking stick so he could watch the sights of the street. He enjoyed seeing the shop windows with their wares on proud display: the men and women of the street going about both business and pleasure, all bathed in blue and thick with shadows. They brought back to him some memories of his homeland, but without the corruption that taints the people, land, and very air of that place. But the streets there were also alive, more so in fact than in Corvis. Perhaps it is the heightened danger in his homeland’s streets that adds the sharpness and piquancy that his long-ago memories recalled. The coach pulled to a gentle stop and Klaus eased himself gracefully into the street, and paid the driver with a smile and a coin. He turned to the building and noted the foul stench and a stream of something indescribable that ran down the street. He gingerly stepped over…

…the body that lay before him. The man would, no doubt, recover. However, he would most certainly be uncomfortable for several days. Klaus moved through the low room slowly, working carefully. Floorboards were pulled up, drawers opened, emptied, removed and then inspected, clothing rifled through, and furniture investigated. Finally, the room’s secrets were given up as Klaus removed a package from behind the remains of a recently plastered hole in the wall. Klaus mentally gave the unconscious man a few extra points for creativity. He cut the hemp ties that encircled the little package and unfolded the butcher paper. The slight scent of perfume eased into the air and nine letters lay in his hands, each delicately scribed with his name. With a smile of satisfaction he placed them on a metal plate and struck a thick match on the rough wood of a ceiling beam. Once all was consumed and nothing but powdered ash remained, he opened the shutter and with a deep breath blew the ashes to the wind. The reputation of one overly romantic, if somewhat misguided, lady was safe once again. Klaus paused at the door to look back at the man that lay on the cheap rag carpet. The short conversation that they had engaged in was sufficient to ensure more wisdom in the man’s future. If not, Klaus would return one last time. He stepped through the doorway into…

…the warm, dark sitting room. Klaus meticulously brushed his hat before placing it gently in its box. Then, with equal care, he brushed his cape and coat and hung them in the wardrobe. He eased himself into his robe and then sat in his high-backed chair. A cigar in one hand and a brandy in the other, he stared into the fire and smiled.